Re-inventing local public services

Delegates at the Socitm Annual Conference, being held this year in Edinburgh 11-13 October, will be challenged to do some radical thinking about how public services can manage rising demand against the certainty of diminished resources resulting from the credit crunch and consequent crisis in public sector finances.
Public services need to ‘think radical’, and think fast about how they are to meet future needs with sharply diminishing resources, and Socitm 2009 Re-inventing local public services – radical thinking, practical solutions will provide a timely opportunity.
Parallel sessions
A key part of the conference is the parallel sessions programme on the first full day of the conference, when delegates get to choose from a series of topics catering for the increasingly wide range of professional interests and specialisms within public sector ICT.
Addressing one of the most sensitive areas of public service delivery Robert Forman, eCare Programme Manager for the Scottish Government, will present a session on the Scottish response to sharing personal data. The workshop will focus on products, services and advice developed by eCare to support a range of needs. It will also show how eCare will support the Scotland’s integrated children’s services policy, Getting it Right for Every Child.
Covering another ‘hot topic’, Simon Hume of Stratford-on-Avon District Council and social media researcher Liz Azyan present issues around use by local authority staff of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Growing numbers of public sector workers see access to social media as essential for their work, especially for understanding and engaging with customers. Arguments against allowing staff access tend to centre on security, bandwidth and time-wasting. The discussion will be informed by research Socitm Insight has commissioned on usage and attitudes to social media among IT managers.
Martin Ferguson, Head of Policy, Socitm will lead discussion on how local authority ICT managers should be responding to the Operational Efficiency Review which is suggesting significant reductions in spending on ICT. A number of critical steps and actions can be taken locally, including: better use of information, shifting customers to self service; adopting a ‘lean services approach’; taking a structured and formal approach to portfolio management; more efficient, effective ICT service delivery; and restructuring operational budgets to change the way we operate.
Green approaches
Green approaches are not just essential for the future of the planet, they are also efficient – as the world emerges from recession, oil prices will once again begin to spiral. Catalina McGregor, Central Government’s Founder and Deputy Champion for Green ICT and Richard Dawson, Bracknell Forest Borough Council will set out what CIOs have delivered this year, together with a case study from Bracknell Forest, a pioneer in green working methods. Delegates will then have the opportunity to develop ideas about how these approaches could be used in their own organisations.
David Wilde, CIO, Westminster City Council, Andrew Unsworth, Head of e-Government, Edinburgh Council and Alan Whatton, Best Practice Group will ask the question: What does it take to make outsourcing work at a time when the practice has become  commonplace across local government and only likely to increase? Successful outsourced services have strong and clear governance, direction and mutual respect. Where they fail it is usually about unrealistic expectations, weak contracts, lack of direction and poor supplier relationship management. This session will showcase two major outsourced deals, Westminster and Edinburgh, and share experiences, insights and hindsight.
‘Self service’
One thing the crisis in public finances makes essential is that all public sector organisations commit to increasing ‘self-service’ wherever possible. Elaine McCue, Customer Services Manager, Renfrewshire Council, will show how her organisation is leading the way in customer strategy and channel management. A pioneer in Scotland in implementing the national Customer First programme, and participant in the first group for Socitm Insight’s channel value benchmarking, Renfrewshire has just published its new customer service strategy.
One of the challenges of the current recession is to make smarter use of existing resources to  improve services and reduce costs. Neil Moore, Government IT Profession National Competency Lead will focus on delivery management and IT professionalism, exploring how the Government IT Profession can help organisations work smarter by improving IT professionalism, especially in relation to delivery management and the skills framework for the information age (SFIA).

‘The Cloud’
In one of a number of conference sessions on the hot topic of ‘The Cloud’, Nathan Marke, Chief Technology Officer, 2e2 Group Ltd will argue that this is local government’s brightest opportunity to save money, protect jobs and boost productivity. He will review the new architectural models represented by the cloud, show how these have the potential to dramatically reduce both TCO and carbon footprint, and explore their relevance to key initiatives such as shared services, out tasking of non-core services, and NI14.
Is there something you should know? Andrew Ball, Head of IT Performance Audit, and Natalie Penrose, Senior Research Manager, the Audit Commission, think there is, arguing that information should be well made, well used and well governed. The reality, however is often different, and this interactive workshop will explain how the right people, culture and standards can help organisations meet the key information principles of relevance, quality and presentation.
Reap the benefits
How you can make digital inclusion happen in your authority area and reap all the benefits is the offer being presented by Steven Jewell and Paul Wheeler of Milton Keynes Council
Their session will provide an overview and films of the MK Council digital inclusion ‘journey’ showing how DigitalMK and Connect MK Ltd were created, how loan PCs are provided into the MK community and how new WiMAX wireless broadband is coming into MK. You will learn how you can benefit from and exploit these developments, gaining access to the Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher scheme and to a wealth of information (a toolkit) for your use.
Doug Maclean of Socitm Consulting will present his vision of The Council of the Future. It will be very different from what we know today. It has to be. The economic pressures to reduce cost, and the social pressures to deliver more and better services mean that councils have to question not only what they do but how they do it. Applying business process improvement methods takes you only so far; at some point you have to question why you have these processes at all. Doug will show how councils can move forward, in small manageable steps, to the Council of the Future. This session is not for the faint-hearted!
How can local government engage customers through social media and share valuable data Suraj Kika, CEO of Jadu, will ask. In the early days of Web 1.0 – the ‘document web’, content was everything. Web 2.0 – the ‘social web’ is having a major impact on our lives as individuals interact with each other and with organisations, shifting from ‘mass media’ to ‘personal media’. Web 3.0 – which is all about how data, can be used more effectively – is now upon us. This workshop explores the implications of Web 3.0 for government and looks at how the data organisations have can be used to ‘add value’ to people’s lives.
Returning to the cloud, Jeremy Sneller, Director, NEC Philips, will set out how this can be exploited to reinvent local public services. In particular, it will consider how, by integrating IT, communications and collaborative tools with a cloud computing model, organisations can meet requirements for business continuity whilst delivering quantifiable improvements in end user productivity and significant business transformation.
Conrad Simpson, Head Of Security Practice at Sopra Group will focus entirely on the issue of improving risk management and information assurance. He will provide some real life examples that will illustrate the reality of these issues and the need to ensure that the focus on data handling does not divert priorities and resources away from the ‘business as usual’ threats.
IBM’s contribution will help delegates consider the biggest of big pictures. Rashik Parmar, IBM’s Chief Technology Officer will sketch out what Councils can do to create a ‘Smarter Planet’ thanks to the commoditisation of sensors and technology, the explosion of social networking technologies and advances in analytic technologies. If we can apply these new capabilities, we can make our planet smarter: with less traffic, healthier food, cleaner water and safer cities, he will argue. And the IT function has a critical role as the catalyst for this evolution.

Cost benefits
Significant cost benefits could be achieved by sharing network services across multiple public authorities and organisations, says Richard Brandon, Head of Strategy at MLL Telecom.
He will discuss the potential for cost savings and improvements in capacity, resilience and flexibility, as well as the barriers to implementing such network. He will also present cost savings achieved from building a new network by one English local authority.
On Tuesday 13 October, delegates will be able to see presentations on the shortlisted entries in the Local Government IT Excellence Awards. The Awards are a collaborative venture between Socitm, SOLACE and Intellect, and aim to demonstrate how IT has been used effectively and innovatively to deliver best value public services. Entries are open now and details are available at:
Socitm 2009 will be supported by our major sponsors, including NEC Phillips, 2e2, Jadu, MLL Telecom, IBM and Sopra Group, and by our key sponsors Vistorm, Cable&Wireless, Becrypt, and Google. There will also be an exhibition promoting services relevant to public sector ICT and e-Government will be open on the Monday and Tuesday of the event.
A parallel event for web managers, Learning from Better connected 2009: the Scottish edition organised by Socitm Insight will run in the same venue on Tuesday 13 October. There will be an opportunity for delegates to ‘mix and match’ sessions with those of the main event.

For more information
Further information and booking form at
Details about exhibition and sponsorship opportunities are at or contact

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